With experts cautioning that the third wave of COVID-19 may hit children the most, Karnataka has begun preparations to equip itself to tackle an imminent outbreak.
State Health Director Om Prakash Patil, who held consultations with 17 experts and members of the state unit of Indian Academy of Paediatricians (IAP) on Friday, said the State will come out with guidelines on handling paediatric COVID-19 infections.
“We discussed on what can be done to prevent spread among children and how we can ramp up our infrastructure and train manpower to handle paediatric cases, if at all the projections come true,” he said.
Shivananda, former director of the State-run Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health, who attended the meeting, said what the State needs is more manpower trained in handling child cases as the existing number of paediatricians may not be adequate. “Only a fraction of the infected child cases may require ventilators. Most of the new ventilators come with settings that can be adjusted for paediatric use. What the State may require is more paediatric BIPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines and paediatric ICU beds,” he said.
“Also, as home isolation of infected children is very difficult without parents’ supervision, we have asserted that vaccination of parents should be given priority. If they are immunised, the risk of getting infected while handling positive children will be minimal,” he added.
V. Ravi, member of the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), who first cautioned the State about children likely to be the most hit during the third wave, said the focus should be on having separate COVID-19 beds for children at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. “Whether the third wave comes or not, this is the time to invest on our paediatric health infrastructure and it will not go waste,” he said.
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